ADF personnel and platforms have been deployed to the South West Pacific to support maritime surveillance operations.
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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has linked up with Pacific partner nations to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity in the South West Pacific under Operation Solania.
The operation forms part of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Operation Island Chief.
The activity involved the deployment of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-27J Spartan and a KA350 King Air, tasked with helping Vanuatu and Kiribati monitor their exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
The RAAF C-27J Spartan and KA350 King Air aircraft operated out of Port Vila and Tarawa, respectively, at the request of the government of Kiribati.
The KA350 King Air crew reportedly flew 10 missions for the FFA, detecting and reporting more than 15 suspicious vessels and helping locate 10 vessels of interest.
The C-27J Spartan’s contribution included flying 11 missions over Vanuatu’s EEZ, reporting more than 50 vessels to the FFA.
In addition to the RAAF aircraft, an ADF Air liaison officer and geospatial and intelligence specialists were deployed to assist the FFA alongside members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Fijian Navy and United States Coast Guard.
Commander of ADF Operations in the South West Pacific, Major General Scott Winter, said the ADF’s contribution formed part of a larger commitment to preserving stability in the region.
“Australia is committed to helping our Pacific family protect their fisheries resources, support regional security and counter transnational crime,” MAJGEN Winter said.
“Supporting operations like Island Chief allows us to work with the FFA, our Pacific partners, and members of the Pacific Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and France) to ensure the economic security and prosperity of the Pacific through the protection of its critical maritime industries and ecosystems.
“We are at our best when we face these challenges together – as partners, and as a region.”